Welcome to Toronto 2023, where drug consumption sites can remain, but a go-kart track, batting cages and beach volleyball courts must go!
It appears no one is advocating for change, despite 22,000 signing petitions hoping for a reversal.
To summarize again: The The Centennial Mini-Indy, located on 11 acres in Etobicoke’s 470-acre Centennial Park, has been ordered vacated after 36 years and must leave by the end of the season to make way for new baseball diamonds .
Why? They already have baseball diamonds in the park.
And why now?
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Toronto is facing a cash crunch and Mayor Olivia Chow is introducing new taxes, called revenue instruments, to pay the bills. Canceling the Centennial Mini-Indy eviction would be a start.
“No one from the mayor’s office or the city has called us back,” said owner Don Duggan.
Councilor Stephen Holyday got back to me and tried to explain.
“In 2021, the City Council approved an updated master plan for Centennial Park. The updated plan was based on community consultation with over 1,300 community members through public workshops, surveys and a virtual open house,” he said in an email.
“As part of the master plan, the city is undertaking capital projects to improve football and baseball facilities. This includes developing a dedicated baseball area in the portion of the park currently used by Mini-Indy. A master plan for the park is not new and the previous version from 2008 did not include the mini-Indy.”
Or the Diamond Beach volleyball court and batting cages.
“There are already seven baseball diamonds in the park that are mostly empty,” Duggan said.
The same cannot be said about his kart track. There are lineups.
“We’re a popular attraction,” Duggan said. “People are really going to miss having this here.”
The city will miss out on the $200,000 annual concession it pays to lease the land, and 65 people will be without seasonal jobs.
“It doesn’t make sense to us,” said Duggan, who is hoping for 25,000 signatures change.org/p/save-centennial-park-s-go-karts-and-batting-cages to be presented to the Council.
Drug consumption sites are now swarming, with overdose deaths and even murder seemingly occurring every week. There is no fever to close these. But there is war mini car.
“The city is simply capitulating to special interest groups,” Duggan said.
Canceling go-karts in the name of climate change is a long shot.
“I would switch to battery-powered go-karts if quality batteries were available,” he said. “So far they’ve only lasted four months.”
Of course, the sound of the revving engines is part of the experience that battery operation does not provide.
Closing this place is insane. AAs Toronto heads into recession, with businesses closing, jobs lost and homelessness rife, it’s ironic that something that actually makes money for the city, employs people and creates fun and happiness is being pursued.
It’s crazy how the city is running a pilot project to allow alcohol drinking in city parks, hurting the local tax paying bars and now destroying that business. They are slow to move their tent cities out of parks and turn a blind eye to people who smoke drugs in them, including crack, cocaine and crystal meth. You get something like this that’s family oriented and they don’t care.
“We bring tens of thousands of people from across southern Ontario to Centennial Park every year,” Duggan said. “Many groups, teams, families, businesses and tourists rely on us as an activity center, training facility and overall wonderful outdoor experience. We are an essential part of the community and the community deserves a say in how its park is used.”
That is true and I have directed questions about it to the mayor’s office as well as Premier Doug Ford and MPP Kinga Surma, both of Etobicoke.
Perhaps there is potential for compromise here. Let the go-kart track exist until at least 2034, as Duggan said, and keep those jobs and revenue.
“Any change to the plan would require a reopening in council and would be met with criticism given previous consultation work. The council would have to choose between new public facilities and a commercial operator of go-karts,” Holyday said.
If Duggan were to open a so-called safe drug injection or intake site, as history has shown, there would be no dilemma for city councilors. Sooner or later, citizens will have to stand up to politicians who bow to lobbyists who stand in the way of those who create jobs.
“I recently heard from some community members that they prefer the existing attraction complex,” Holyday confirmed.
While he doesn’t make any promises, Holyday said he has “asked staff a number of questions about how we might consider including supportive or complimentary amenities that fit into the master plan.”
Better do it quickly. Duggan says he was told his $2 million track and go-kart equipment must be removed from the site by Nov. 30.
It appears Toronto’s relegation battle is progressing rapidly.
https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/warmington-cash-starved-toronto-closing-profitable-go-kart-track-speeds-up-race-to-despair The closure of Toronto’s profitable go-kart track is driving racing into despair